The 2022 Trinidad Derby will take place on Saturday (September 24) at the Arima Race Club in Santa Rosa Park.
While the race and the Triple Crown series are both shadows of their former selves, there must be a Derby winner though this year, there will be no Triple Crown winner. The winners of the first two legs are both expected to face the starter on Saturday. Crown Prince was the 2021 two-year-old champion and an unbeaten winner of the Guineas.
The wheels came off this runner when he was beaten in his last two starts including the Midsummer Classic. It is anyone’s guess whether he can return to his former self and win the Derby. Soca Harmony was the surprising winner of the Midsummer Classic, primarily because she had been fairly well exposed as being inferior to her stable companion.
However in the Classic, under veteran rider Nobel Abrego, she stormed away from Crown Prince in the home straight, to not only catch everyone by surprise but to leave champion jockey Brian Boodramsingh, shaking his head in disbelief.
On that Classic form, Soca Harmony is the one to beat in the Derby. Although there are six other horses expected to face the starter, three of them, JCPeyton, Magical World and Princess Aruna probably have zero chance in the race.
The other three, Bay View, Davindra and Shareef have outside chances at best. All three are maiden winners and highly regarded by their connections but none of them have shown enough to suggest that they can trouble the top two. In a less competitive event than usual, I think Soca Harmony can continue her progression and provide affable owner Lester Moore with his first well-deserved Derby winner.
On the 24th, UK racing fans will also experience the Future Champions Day at Newmarket with the Royal Lodge (Group 2), Middle Park (Group 1) and Cheveley Park (Group 1) Stakes scheduled to be run off.
On this day last year, future 2022 English 2000 Guineas winner, the ill-fated Coroebus, was on display in the Royal Lodge. Punters can expect to see a lot of good clues for the 2023 Classics in these three races. The most intriguing contender in the Royal Lodge is the Gosdens’ Frankel colt, Arrest. This colt was an impressive winner of his last start and Sandown and is bred to get better as the distances get longer. He will face stiff competition from the likely favourite, Godolphin’s unbeaten Naval Power and any one of the battalion of runners entered by Aidan O’Brien. The final field will be known on Friday but Arrest is the one that appeals most at likely attractive odds.
The Cheveley Park looks very competitive with three last time out Group winners, Trillium, winner of the Flying Childers, Lezoo, winner of the Princess Margaret, and Swingalong, winner of the Lowther, expected to face the starter. The one I like, however, is Godolphin’s Mawj, who was unfortunate when fourth behind Swingalong on her last start having been an impressive winner of the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket (beating Lezoo) previously.
The Middle Park is another very competitive event with the likes of Marshman (second in Gimcrack); the Prix Morny 1-2-3, Blackbeard, Persian Force and The Antartic; Sirenia winner, Mischief Magic; and Richmond Stakes 1-2, Royal Scotsman and Al Karrar; all expected to line up. Of these runners, Aidan O’Brien’s Blackbeard appeals most.
On the 24th, US racing fans can look forward to the Grade 1s Pennsylvania Derby and Cotillon Stakes at Parx. In the former, some of the top three-year-old colts in the US are expected to face the starter including Haskell Stakes (Grade 1) one-two, Cyberknife (subsequently runner up in the Travers) and Taiba; Kentucky Derby third-place finisher, Zandon; the top three from the West Virginia Derby, Skippylongstocking, We the People and Simplification; and Ohio Derby winner and Jim Dandy third-place finisher, Tawny Port. Of this loaded field, Cyberknife and Zandon stand out but the latter has to rebound from a poor run in the Travers and Cyberknife is given the edge for trainer Brad Cox.
With excellent races in the UK and US, racing fans are in for a racing treat on Republic Day, even if the local fare pales by comparison. Nonetheless, the Trinidad Derby will take place and we can only hope that the supporting card is more exciting than the feature race itself.
Happy Republic Day to all!